Frequency Tuning of Basilar Membrane and Auditory Nerve Fibers in the Same Cochleae

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Science  04 Dec 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5395, pp. 1882-1884
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5395.1882

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Responses to tones of a basilar membrane site and of auditory nerve fibers innervating neighboring inner hair cells were recorded in the same cochleae in chinchillas. At near-threshold stimulus levels, the frequency tuning of auditory nerve fibers closely paralleled that of basilar membrane displacement modified by high-pass filtering, indicating that only relatively minor signal transformations intervene between mechanical vibration and auditory nerve excitation. This finding establishes that cochlear frequency selectivity in chinchillas (and probably in mammals in general) is fully expressed in the vibrations of the basilar membrane and renders unnecessary additional (“second”) filters, such as those present in the hair cells of the cochleae of reptiles.

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